TCB NHL Power Rankings: September 2019

Starting this season, @FutureOfThe716, @Schwartzkopf1 and myself (in collaboration with @BuffaWallpapers for the incredible graphics), The Charging Buffalo presents our new NHL power rankings.

While this is a work in progress, the current plan is to release a monthly ranking for all 31 NHL teams, with some analysis on why certain teams are where they are.

In the heat of the season, we may decide to increase the frequency of the rankings, but for right now, we’ll stick with a monthly ranking.

For insight as to how we determine this, we take the averages of our three individual power rankings to create this final list.

img 0375 TCB NHL Power Rankings: September 2019

Every month, each of us will take a team and give an explanation to why a certain team is where they are and why the Sabres are where they are.

@BillTCB – #2 Boston Bruins

While none of us had Boston as high as #2, the Bruins had good enough rankings to push themselves past Calgary, Toronto, St. Louis and even Nashville. Anyone predicting who will come out of the Atlantic division (which is arguably the best division in the league), I’d guess 9 out of 10 of them will say Tampa, Boston and Toronto.

With players like Bergeron, Kreji, Pastrnak, Marchand, McAvoy and Krug carrying a lot of the production weight, then quality depth players like DeBrusk, Coyle, Heinen, Grzelcyk and the seemingly ageless Zdeno Chara backstopped by Tuuka Rask, I don’t see any reason why they can’t make another run at the Stanley Cup. Unless father time catches up to them or they enter an extended rough stretch, I’d expect to see them at least in the top 10 all season.

@TheFutureOfThe716#13 Winnipeg Jets and #23 Buffalo Sabres

The Winnipeg Jets are going to be a very interesting team to watch this season. Back in 2018, they made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals, but 2019 saw them lose in the 1st round of the playoffs. After the departures of Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers, the Jets blueline will look different next season, but I expect Josh Morrissey to play well in an increased role and Sami Niku is an intriguing prospect who should get a full-time NHL look next season.

The Jets possess a great collection of talent at forward combining skilled youth in Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers, Jack Roslovic, and Patrik Laine with talented veterans in Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler. Laine was looking like a potential superstar in his rookie season, but had about as bad of a 30-goal season one can have this past season with a very negative 5v5 impact on both ends of the ice.

However, Laine is still only 21 years-old and has more than enough time to turn things back around. They certainly have the talent to bring home the Stanley Cup and an effective Laine would certainly be a piece that could help put them over the top.

One cannot bring up the Jets without bringing up the fact that Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor remain unsigned with the start of the regular season being a little over a month away. Signing those two players is certainly at the top of the Jets “to-do list” and they hope to get the two deals done before October.

The Sabres are 23rd in our power rankings which is the same spot they finished at the conclusion of the 2018-19 season. Certainly one would expect the Sabres to show some improvement after the offseason they had, but there are still so many questions with this team.

Will Ralph Krueger be a successful coach? Will we see the Marcus Johansson of three years ago? Will Casey Mittelstadt make great strides in his sophomore season? Can one of the goalies have a breakout season? Can Victor Olofsson excel in a top six role? With all of these questions left to be answered, I have a hard time placing the Sabres much higher than 23rd.

@Schwartzkopf1 – #25 Minnesota Wild

After registering 100+ points in 3/4 seasons prior to 2018-19, the Minnesota Wild took a step back last year and finished 7th in their division with 83 points.  The biggest splash they made this offseason was the signing of UFA Mats Zuccarello on a 5 year-$30 million deal and they also added 24 year old forward Ryan Hartman to one of the oldest teams in the league. 

While they return many strong veterans this year (Parise, Zucker, Spurgeon, Dumba, Koivu, Suter), I feel as if they really are not in a position to make a run as most of these guys are on the wrong side of the age curve.  As we saw the Sabres do a few years ago with Vanek, Pominville, and Miller, it may be time for the Wild to move some of their veterans at the trade deadline and start their rebuild.

Young guns like Jordan Greenway and Ryan Donato are very promising players and the additions of Matthew Boldy and Nico Sturm to the prospect pool is nice, but the Wild really lack an elite prospect that could help the franchise transition smoothly to the next group of core players. 

I imagine Bill Guerin will realize the potential for a mediocre season early on and begin to make plans for a rebuild in Minnesota.  I project a similar season to last year for the Wild as they are a franchise trending down until further notice.

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